January 21, 2005

User- and Project-Specific Content

Here is one way to have your firm’s standard content [AEC Content files and Style Source files] on your network, while still allowing individual users and project teams to have their own content.

Putting content files on the network is an option when you install ADT. Installation in an office environment is not something with which I have experience, so I am going to assume that you have already done that and that everyone in your office has their AEC Content path [AEC Content tab in Options] pointing to a network location, the office standard and/or out-of-the-box style/definition source files are on the network and your Tool Palette tools all point to those network files. Having those files in one place, possibly in read-only folders, makes it easy to update office standards when needed, but how do you allow users to experiment with content or accommodate project-specific needs without making everyone else wade through it all?

The answer is to use Windows shortcuts. You can “include” folders that are not directly below the root AEC Content path by placing a Windows shortcut to any folder, and then that folder, and its subfolders, will be accessible from the Content tab of DesignCenter, and AEC Content can be placed in those folders and it will be recognized as AEC Content.

At my firm, a Windows shortcut called "Local AEC Content" is placed in the AEC Content root directory and it points to the default stand-alone installation content root directory ["C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Autodesk\Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2004\R16.0\enu\AEC Content" in ADT2004, which is what we are using], so that each user can create her or his own AEC Content files and access them through DesignCenter. You can use any folder located on the individual computer’s hard drive, so long as the user has read/write access to it – using the default location allows multiple users on the same computer to have their own local AEC Content.

Where project-specific content needs to be available to a project team, but you would prefer not to clutter the office standard folders, you can add project-specific folders to just the members of that team by adding a Windows shortcut to the local root folder [the one to which the network shortcut added above points] on each team members computer that points to a network location associated with that project. [I am using "project" in the generic sense, not the ADT Project Navigator sense.] That project folder, and its subfolders, will be accessible from the Custom tab of DesignCenter, as will any project-specific content placed there.

Any project-specific AEC Content is then organized in subfolders under the project-specific content root folder. If there are custom tags, the source file for the Property Set Definition referenced by the tag's AEC Content file is placed in the same folder or the folder immediately above the tag file’s folder, as well. If there are project-specific styles, a folder to hold source file[s] for those styles is also located in this same network location. You can then create tools, based on these network-located files; assemble the tools onto palettes and put the palettes into a project-specific catalog, which is also located within the project's network folders. Team members can then open the project-specific catalog and i-drop the palettes into their local workspaces. Because they have already copied the Windows shortcut, any tools that reference AEC Content will work.

No comments: